Sibahle Nkumbi was thrown down a flight of stairs by her Airbnb host for checking out late. Photo: Twitter/@TheYBF
When South African filmmaker Sibahle Nkumbi and her fellow traveller Lerato Dumse went to Amsterdam for Zanele Muholi’s art exhibition, the last place they expected any kind of racism or violence was from their Airbnb host. Nkumbi could not have expected to find herself tumbling down a flight of stairs, having a concussion, passing out, with the host still shouting “out!out!” and waking up in a hospital. However, the racism and violence is what exactly happened.
Nkumbi and Muholi were lodged via an Airbnb hospitality service, which links up guests with hosts, with the price for accommodation set by the host. In an interview that’s now gone viral, Nkumbi said, “The lady (owner of the Airbnb) was a little bit upset, but she managed to talk politely. She stated that this is not acceptable: “You guys need to pack and leave now.” I was like, ‘Can you give us a few minutes?’ And I apologized profusely for being late.”
Nkumbi who’s presently studying at Berne, in Germany said the lady came back with her husband who banged on the door and was verbally abusive by referring to them as “you people,” and by telling them “you are not the great artist that you think you are, you are not the queen that you think you are. This is not Africa.”
Nkumbi who’s never experienced such a thing in her entire life hopes justice is served though she remains sceptical about anything being done. In what seems to be a coincidental occurrence for her, a South African woman who comes from a country where apartheid was the order of the day, finding herself experience racism from the country the perpetrators of apartheid came from, the realisation that racism is still this brazen is a shock to her.
Nkumbi said, “I come from South Africa where racism is so fucked up, and you would expect that from South Africa because racism is visible. You come here, you get attacked like that. I didn’t expect it at all. I am actually quite disappointed. . . When will we wake up! People are people.”
The South African embassy is following on the case and the racist man has been charged with attempted murder. Nkumbi’s experience speaks to a larger picture many black people all over the world face.